Profile America — Friday, April 27th. The world recently noted the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. But today is the anniversary of America's worst waterborne disaster in 1865 — one which had greater loss of life. And it happened hundreds of miles inland.
Moving up the flooded Mississippi River near Memphis at night, the wooden steamboat Sultana's boilers suddenly exploded, and the boat burned and sank. It was badly overloaded with more than 2,000 passengers; up to 1,700 of them died. With President Lincoln's recent assassination, and the Civil War winding down, the disaster created little notice and is now almost forgotten. Today, Mississippi River boats carry few passengers, but each year move 622 million tons of cargo along the river. Profile America is completing its 15th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.